If there was a prize for the most unpopular man in Madrid right now there would be only one winner – Gareth Bale.
That’s a tricky prize to win given the recent elections in Spain but Bale’s celebrations after helping Wales to Euro 2020 have ensured that he won’t be welcomed back to the Spanish capital with open arms.
Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.
The phrase will now be forever intertwined into Bale’s Real Madrid legacy after showing his allegiance in his home country on Wednesday night. A joke it may have been, but naivety on Bale’s part will ensure any legendary status the former Tottenham Hotspur man would have hoped for from a trophy-laden spell in Madrid will be quickly washed away.
The phrase was emblazoned onto a Welsh flag by fans following quotes by former Madrid player Predrag Mijatović, with a song accompanying it. Following Wales’ 2-0 victory over Hungary, ensuring their qualification for Euro 2020 next summer, one of the coaching staff from Wales sought out the flag and made sure it was part of the post-match celebrations. There was Bale front and centre, laughing and enjoying the moment.
While a joke it may have been, one in the euphoria of the moment, Bale himself should have known better. He should have known how the joke would have been taken back in Spain, not only by the press but by the fans too.
Those Madrid fans had, for the most part, felt for the Welshman given the press coverage he receives in Spain. Some see it as an attack and far from fair, and although they see Bale’s time with Los Blancos as nearing its conclusion, the enemy had been the press, going for the jugular. You have better chances playing a machine a sous and winning than seeing Bale wear the white jersey much longer.
Now those minds have been turned. The press, of course, are going to town on the stunt but the fans have turned too. Some believe he’s played his last match for Madrid and will be ready to vent their anger should he pull on the famous shirt again.
The ball will now be in Zinedine Zidane’s court. Bale will return from international, duty ahead of Madrid’s home match against Real Sociedad on Saturday night. He will return fit, seemingly, and ready to train this week. How Zidane reacts in Friday’s pre-match press conference will be of interest.
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Bale was all set to leave last summer and now he will be desperate to depart for pastures new in January, or at the latest in the summer. He’s now made his final months as a Madrid player ones that he is unlikely to enjoy.